Monday Presser Full Transcript: VanBergen

Ryan VanBergen on the #12 ranking; on the DL-rotation; on why the D is so much better; on the TO's they've created; on preparing for Northwestern's mobile QBs.

Question: Are you aware of Michigan's ranking and what do you think of being #12 now?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I wasn't aware of the number. I know that we've been ranked for a week or two now. As far as rankings go, my opinion hasn't changed. The team's opinion hasn't changed. Ranking doesn't mean anything to us. If anything, all it does is provide motivation for the team playing against us. We don't think we've played to the level that we need to play to yet still and we definitely don't feel like we've played up to the potential of being the #12 team in the country. Can we be there? Possibly, but we still have to put a couple of different things in order. We're getting there. We're definitely making some progress, but we're not the #12 team in the country right now yet."

Question: Along with that same thing, Brady Hoke came in and agreed with the word overrated when it came to your team, does that surprise you at all with way these guys approach it and to coach you guys?

Ryan Van Bergen: "Not at all. It has been kind of Coach Hoke's attitude as far as he is never going to oversell an accomplishment that we have. He is never going to get overexcited about something like that. We've played five games and we've won five games, but are we the top 15 team in the country, I don't think we've played like that. I think that is his attitude and that's our attitude and we don't want to be given anything that we haven't deserved. In our opinion, we are overrated, but we also have beaten some teams. If we continue to do that, maybe we'll deserve that ranking."

Question: You've said before that you've almost run down Denard Robinson. In all seriousness, how much does playing against him every week give you guys confidence or make life a little easier when you're going against a mobile coordinator, whether it would have been MarQueis Gray last week or Dan Persa on Saturday?

Ryan Van Bergen: "Before Denard comes up here, I haven't caught him directly, he had to make a cut or two. He'd be mad if he heard I said that. It does help. When you play against one of the most versatile players and then you have Devin Gardner too, who is kind of like the changeup. Devin is not slow by any standards, he's a really fast quarterback but when you play against Denard and then playing against Devin, you're getting the best of both worlds as far as running quarterbacks and athletic guys in the backfield plus our running backs and stuff. So when you get that kind of experience, when you go against somebody like Dan Persa, who is so versatile and athletic, we get an opportunity every week in practice to get that caliber athlete in the backfield and try to contain him in the pocket or take good angles to him when he is running the ball. So that is an advantage our defense has over most defenses in the country is how we're able to prepare for athletes in the backfield because I know a lot of other teams have to use scout team guys that are running backs or receivers; skilled positions that can't necessarily throw the ball. When we have Devin and Denard that provides a huge advantage in preparing for the week."

Question: Was there an instance in games past maybe last year or the year before even where you were that specifically helped having gone against Denard each week and then facing a guy on Saturday, be it Juice (Williams) or (Ricky) Stanzi or somebody like that.

Ryan Van Bergen: "Not to jump ahead or anything, but I watched the Illinois-Northwestern game and (Nathan) Scheelhaase is a tremendous athlete as far as quarterbacks and quickness and agility and stuff. When we against them last year in the triple overtime win, we had some stops against him where he could have probably broke it for more yards had we not had that preparation with Denard and Devin. There are other quarterbacks too that have that versatility. Persa is one of them. He is quick, athletic and we're going to have to do a great job with him. But the thing like I said helps is that we have Tuesday and Wednesday practices with two great athletes at quarterback, so we're always able to be prepared and we're confident that we're going to be able to contain guys like that."

Question: How encouraged by the progress that you guys have made defensively from last year to now?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I'm really encouraged. I also think it is interesting to see some of the statistics that we've put up with the way we've played and graded out. As far as, there's been guys that have played well but they haven't played as well as they have in a Tuesday practice or something as far as missed assignments and stuff. There were some first downs and some eight plus yard runs that they had that never should have broken for more than two or three. I'm sure people are getting tired of hearing, like we could be better, we could be better. We posted a shutout, people are probably thinking that we played pretty well, but it is amazing where we could have been had everybody been just a little bit better on some assignments. That's what keeps me motivated and keeps me going is the fact that we could be so much better if we just clean up just a few more little things."

Question: Coach Hoke said you're playing harder, you're playing better than you did last year, is that something that you sense as more of an effort, more intensity than you've seen in the past?

Ryan Van Bergen: "Yeah. I would say there is probably a little bit more effort, a little bit more intensity. I think half of that has to do with our offense. We have to give our offense the credit when they're due. They kept us off the field. I played 28 plays on Saturday and there were games last year that I played 85 to 90 plays, me and Mike Martin did the same thing. When you're only playing a limited amount of reps, you can sell out and have the gas all the way down the whole way through the game and I think that is something that everybody has been able to do. I think everybody has been more productive because of the less reps. Guys aren't winded. At the end of the game, we're still fresh and ready to go."

Question: You talked about turnovers many times, you guys have taught to swarm to the ball and always try to strip it out. Does the same rule apply to scoring defensively, are you guys taught, hey pick up a ball and go or is it just one of those fortunate lucky kind of happenstances where you guys have scored three defensive touchdowns this year?

Ryan Van Bergen: "No that's not luck that's something we practice. When the coaches first got here, Coach Mattison implemented this rule and everybody rolled their eyes at this rule. We were like, this is crazy, there is no way he can do this. We had in any kind of situation, when there is a ball on the ground whether it be a fumble, incomplete pass when we know it was dropped or thrown out of bounds or whatever, the entire defense is expected to go to the ball, pick it up and rally to the end zone. Like I said, regardless of what period we're in, what drill it is and we thought, man this is nuts. We're going to be tired, we're wasting time, this is stupid and shame on us. It has been great for us. It has taught us some great habits. We've forced turnovers. We converted on those turnovers. The things that happened last year was balls would be on the ground and we might not come up with it as much. This year when the ball is on the ground, the ball is ours. It is something that maybe wasn't as prevalent last year. The coaches are doing great job of emphasizing the little things like that where we thought this isn't as important as they think it is and then we come back and obviously we don't know as much as we think we did. It has really shown up on game day."

Question: You were talking a little bit more about less reps, you're a senior, guys wants to play. Kevin Koger said you want to play as much as possible, was that a tough thing to buy in at first? Saying you're going to play a little bit less reps to get more rotation in?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I would say it is a little bit difficult just because when you elevate your status to a starter or you've started for a year or two, you kind of want that pressure put on you to perform at a high level for a lot of plays but at the same time. We've developed depth on our defense to where I'm comfortable if Nate Brink comes in or Will Heininger shifts over to the five technique and gives me three or four plays to get a blow. We've got the depth, especially at defensive line. A lot of the secondary guys don't substitute out as much, but defensive line is a little bit more intense position I would say. So when you have the depth develop like we've had and guys have played and have some game experience under their belts now, it is definitely a god send that me and Mike get to come out as much as we do because you can definitely tell with our play…Craig Roh is repping with Jibreel (Black) too. You can definitely tell that everybody's play is elevated because of the intensity you can play with."

Question: When did you actually believe that would be a good thing versus wait I'm losing chances to play in my last year?

Ryan Van Bergen: "With so many things that have gone right with Coach Mattison and all these coaches, we've all bought in everything that they've told us and sure certain things had a little bit of apprehension but that was wiped when you saw the production numbers. The defensive line has been incredibly productive as a unit and that's got to be due to the things that they're coaching and the things that they're doing for us. Anything they say, goes. We believe in them full hearted."

Question: Coach Mattison has talked about the sign in the team room about having a place to stand, what does that mean to your unit. What does that phrase mean to you when you see it on a piece of paper or when he says it?

Ryan Van Bergen: "Having a place to stand means there is no game where you're going to get where a team doesn't get some kind of play, a first down or they break one into the red zone or whatever. The emphasis of our team has been in the red zone, don't let them in the end zone. It doesn't matter if they're on the one. We did goal line probably three days a week in camp and I don't know any other team that did that during summer camp/fall camp. Third and ones, third and twos, fourth and one and fourth and twos, we have an unbelievable swagger and confidence in our defense that we can stop guys third and one. I don't know the statistics, but I think we've been pretty good on third and shorts because that's what we practice. That's where we hang our hat as a defense. We can shut people down when it comes to short yardage because we can stop the run."

Question: If you were a defensive player at another school, how much would it get your attention to see on film a package where you're dealing with Devin Gardner going to quarterback and Denard Robinson in the backfield all of a sudden?

Ryan Van Bergen: "You talking about that formation that we had last Saturday? I hope I had really good coaches. I wouldn't know what to do with that. I don't remember when the era was, but it looks like the mad magicians. It was ridiculous. I hadn't seen any of those plays either. I know they were repping them with the scout team, but they never showed them to us as ones. We were excited when we saw the formation, but we didn't know what was coming and obviously they didn't either. Honestly, I talked to some of the offensive guys and they said we just skimmed the surface with that package. If I'm a defensive guy, I'm thinking, I have the spread I have to prepare for, then we do some I back and some 12 personnel with double tight ends you have to prepare and now whatever you want to call that. It's going to be a lot to put on somebody's plate with only a week to prepare."

Question: What was your reaction and what was the defensive line's reaction when Will Campbell ran right over the left guard and smashed the quarterback?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I was in the game, but I saw it on film. That's something that Will Campbell has been making progress. We've been waiting for him to kind of have his coming out party, because he has had some glimpses in practice were he has just played really well. He is slowly starting to come out on Saturday and start putting some production down and that was one of the plays that we've seen him make time and time again in practice and we're just waiting for it to transfer. If it keeps coming along like that, it is going to be scary because he just tossed that kid and that quarterback did not want to get up. He sat there for a good while. I wouldn't get up either that was 330 pounds. That's dangerous. He's going to continue to get better and we're talking about more reps with the defensive line, the more reps he gets, I think the more production you will see from him."

Question: You talked the last couple of weeks how this can be a great Michigan, but it hasn't been yet. Are we starting to see glimpses of that and is that rotation something of a staple with this Michigan's defense?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I think great is kind of a big word right now. We're coming along. We've made some strides. I know we've got some good statistics in some areas. Like I said, yeah it looks encouraging if you look at the stats and if you watch the game as a fan, but as a player when you know what other guys are capable and you know what their assignment was and we were still able to make a play regardless of the fact that someone might have a small mental error. You want to see the team play when we have those guys, everybody clicking on all six cylinders. Everybody is making the plays that they're supposed to make, I think we can be an even better defense. That's what I'm encouraged by."

Question: What is the biggest difference that you see, taking this team from 110 total defense last year to the #2 scoring defense right now; what do you attribute that to?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I think it is schemes. I think it's guys buying in. I think it is experience. We've got a lot of guys that have played lot of football. I think it is just a confidence. It is a swagger about our defense. When your playing the way we're playing, it is a lot more fun to play. We've got guys that are excited to be out there, excited for other guys to be making plays and it is a lot of fun. They're having a great time with the guys out there, the other ten guys out there. We've just got keep doing. We've got to be satisfied and we've got some rankings we can still climb on defense. We're not great yet."

Question: How excited are you to take this thing on the road and in your experience what is the biggest difference in playing defensive football away from Michigan Stadium?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I'm excited to get on the road because as a team we don't really know where you are 100% until you get a road game and see how you're going to react. We don't know how this team is going to react to the road game. Offense has a hard time communicating sometimes because it's vocal, for us on defense, their fans aren't going to be cheering when they're on offense. Defensively, we should be better than we were before just because we can communicate, everybody can talk. It's not going to be where nobody knows the call or anything like that. That won't be the situation, so defensively we should play a little bit better."

Question: I know you said the defense hasn't arrived yet, but talking to Troy Woolfolk before the season, nowhere to go but up after last season, where you guys just ready to embrace anything new defensively and see what kind of changes you could make to finally get back to where this program has been defensively?

Ryan Van Bergen: "Yeah. The thing that kind of hit home for us is guys that were veterans, there were criticisms that we weren't giving our effort. We weren't preparing the way Michigan's defense should. We weren't physical like Michigan D. It wasn't because we didn't want to be. The guys that are defense now and that were on defense last year were hungry to be great. We wanted to do everything we could and things just didn't pan out of us last year. So when we got the new coaches in and the new staff, we had the scheme come in, which was great for us. We also had an unbelievable hunger and great attitude of, yeah we accept the fact that we were not where we needed to be last year. We will do anything and everything to be good this year. We're okay. We're doing okay. We're doing good. Right now, where is the ceiling. Where could we potentially be if we continue to get better? That's a question that the defensive guys are asking themselves and that's what is encouraging to the coaches is the fact that we realize that we haven't played as good as we could – yet we have the stats that we do."

Question: Could you ever tap into any kind of confidence like this the last couple of years or is this completely…?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I think individuals have probably tapped into confidence. There has been guys who have played well. As far as confidence in the unit, I think that is kind of a newer thing. We have confidence that regardless of who is in at what position. We've had some guys step up recently. We have total confidence that guys are capable of shutting down whoever they're supposed to shut down or completing assignment that they're supposed to complete and that confidence transfer into being more productive and having better games overall."

Question: Can you talk about how Greg Mattison prepares you guys week for week; how you guys game plan for each individual opponent and then how knowledgeable he is for in game adjustments.

Ryan Van Bergen: "The one thing that everybody on our coaching staff, in particular Coach Mattison and Coach Hoke, the two main defensive guys, they'll shoot you straight. If you had a good game, they'll tell you had a good game, if you played horrible, they'll tell you, you played horrible. They won't attack you, but they'll tell you exactly what you need to hear regardless if it is what you want to hear or not. For example, we come in Sunday and Coach Mattison talks about, you know what, you guys played good, you guys got a shutout, you guys were good on third downs, but you guys gave up first downs that you guys normally wouldn't give up. So we got to watch this film and get this corrected. You know you're going to get the right answer, a straight answer, an honest answer. The in game preparation and stuff and week preparation is critical. He gives us tendencies and stuff. You can tell that this guy is watching film. That's all he's doing is eating, sleeping and watching film because he tells us everything that we need to know about an opponent before we go into the game. His game plan adjustments are subtle. They are always correct. We've always been better as the game goes on with our defense, which is a sign of good adjustments. The big thing is, we all have complete faith in what he says and all of our positions coaches. Everything that they've told us so far has held true and it has been great advice and great coaching. That's big for us. We totally buy in and I think that is the biggest contributing factor to success."

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